FENTON, MI – “Let’s go spelunking,” Tony said to Shar and me during one of our visits with the Lynn’s during our seminary days. We didn't have any idea what spelunking was, but we said, "sure, let's go."
We discovered that spelunking means exploring caves. The cave they took us to was absolutely fascinating! There was a stream of crystal-clear water flowing from the entrance of the cave that formed a beautiful creek on the outside. The only way to explore the cave was to walk through the ice-cold water. Though shockingly cold at first, the water was a welcome relief from Kentucky's humid summer heat. It was fascinating to watch geckos run for cover, bats hanging from the ceiling, and other creatures that made their home in the cave. The rock formations were mesmerizing. It was our first time exploring a cave with no tour guides, no signs, and no restrictions on how long we could stay or how far we could go.
The deeper we entered the cave, the shorter and narrower it became. Water that was only ankle deep near the entrance was rising higher on our bodies as the passageway narrowed. Our goal was to make it to the end of the cave, but we got to a point so narrow that the only way forward was to wade in water waist deep and rising. We were all taking turns carrying Tony and Jamie’s two-year-old daughter Naomi. We didn’t want her to get wet in the frigid water, and Jamie was nearing the end of her second pregnancy.
Our wives agreed to stay behind while Tony and I went deeper into the cave. We wanted to make it to the deepest part. Leaving one of the two flashlights we had with our wives, we headed deeper into the cave. After a few minutes, the cave narrowed and shortened dramatically. The passage was so short that we crawled on our hands and knees for a few feet. That wasn't so bad. The bad part was the water. We had entered an area where the water was so deep that only the upper parts of our bodies were above water as we crawled forward.
This cave exploring adventure happened when we were in our 20's. We were young and adventurous, but smart enough to know that we had reached a point where it wasn't safe to go any further. Actually, we went a few feet past that point. We were married men with family and ministry responsibilities. We decided to turn around and let the end of the cave remain a mystery to us, but before returning, we turned off the flashlight to experience the total darkness of the cave.
It was a darkness like no other I have experienced. There was a total absence of light. I put my hand in front of my face, but I could not see it - not even a faint outline! We yelled, but we had gone too far for our wives to hear us. If the flashlight were to fail, fall in the water or run out of power, we would have needed to feel our way out. It’s difficult to describe the eerie, unsettling thoughts that entered my mind as I was enveloped in total darkness with not much more than my head above water.
I am often reminded of that moment of total darkness during the Christmas season. Of the many beautiful descriptions of our Savior during Advent, one of my favorites is that Jesus is the Light. Matthew tells us, “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned” (4:16).
Because that Light has dawned, it truly is MERRY CHRISTMAS!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.